By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Azerbaijan and the U.S. have a long history of cooperation in various fields of economy, and the countries are keen to advance this cooperation to new levels.
Baku hosted the meeting of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Economic Partnership Commission on May 17.
The cooperation issues in such spheres as trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, transit, logistics and intellectual property, etc. were discussed during the meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, Azerbaijani Finance Minister Samir Sharifov said that so far, the U.S. has invested $13.6 billion in the Azerbaijani economy. The minister added that Azerbaijan invested $8.2 billion in the U.S. economy.
Then he said that after the seven-year-break, the activity of the intergovernmental commission has been restored.
Touching upon the trade turnover between the two states, Sharifov noted that it reached 860 million manats ($505.88 million) in 2018 and added that export of Azerbaijani goods to the U.S. made up 530 million manats ($311.76 million).
Minister also spoke about the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the U.S. “The level of cooperation between the countries does not correspond to the existing potential,” he said.
Further, Sharifov emphasized that there are several reasons which prevent development relations between the countries, such as the Section 907, which restricts trade relations between Azerbaijan and the U.S. He expressed hope that the U.S. will work to annul this section.
“Another factor hindering the development of relations between the countries is the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia for about 30 years,” he added.
In turn, Lee Litzenberger, the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, said that since he arrived in Baku in March, he has held many fruitful negotiations. “I believe that we can bring relations between our countries to a new level,” the ambassador said.
Stressing the importance of Southern Gas Corridor, he noted that the project is important not only for Azerbaijan, but also for Europe.
Litzenberger also emphasized the importance of such large-scale projects as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) and Baku International Sea Trade Port.
Further, he added that the U.S. companies highly appreciate the tax and customs reforms being carried out in Azerbaijan and said that the country is also taking important steps in the preservation of intellectual property.
Afterwards, Peter Haas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations in the U.S. Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, addressed the meeting, saying that Azerbaijan and the U.S. are reliable partners.
Haas expressed the readiness of the U.S. to cooperate with Azerbaijan in energy, transport and logistics, information technology and other areas.
"We will discuss matters of strengthening the legal system and intellectual property in Azerbaijan," Haas said.
It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan remains one of the most significant trading partners of the U.S. in the CIS.
Azerbaijan and the U.S. have a Trade Relations Agreement and a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The governments periodically convene the U.S.-Azerbaijan Economic Partnership Commission to discuss bilateral cooperation to promote trade and investment.
The U.S. has long supported Azerbaijan’s efforts to develop and export its energy resources to Western markets. The U.S. companies are involved in offshore oil development projects in Azerbaijan, export of aircraft and heavy machinery to Azerbaijan, and they have been exploring emerging trade and investment opportunities in agriculture, telecommunications, tourism, transportation services, and other fields.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz